MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest
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January 2020  February 2020 March 2020
Sun
2
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Thu
23

Winter Carnival

St. Paul, MN

See ice sculptures in Rice Park and snow sculptures at the Fairgrounds, go down the snow slide, compete in a jigsaw-puzzle contest, take a free fire-truck ride and watch barstool ski races and lawn-mower races.

The Grande Day Parade is Jan. 25 and the Vulcan Victory Torchlight Parade Feb. 1, followed by fireworks.

Sun
9
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Fri
24

Restaurant Week

Chicago, IL

Time to pack on the calories: More than 370 restaurants offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $24 at brunch or lunch and $36 or $48 at dinner.

Sun
2
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Wed
29

Winterfest and U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship

Lake Geneva, WI

In this lake town, there's music, magic shows, a human sled-dog race, helicopter rides, ice bars and an ice castle, plus the snow-sculpting championship.

Sat
1
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Thu
30

Winter Dance Party

Clear Lake, IA

The Surf Ballroom marks the 61st anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, with concerts, luncheons, dance lessons and crash-site tours.

WinterFest

Crosslake, MN

In this Brainerd Lakes area, there are horse-drawn sleigh rides, bonfires, ice car races, helicopter rides, Friday fireworks and Italian Outdoor Olympics.

Sun
2
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Thu
30

Groundhog Days

Woodstock, IL

The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day'' was filmed in this town an hour northwest of Chicago, and it celebrates with storytelling, family games and tours of movie sites, including the 1889 Opera House, where actor Bill Murray jumped from the belfry. At 7 a.m. Sunday, Woodstock Willie will look for his shadow.

City of Lakes Loppet

Minneapolis, MN

For recreational skiers, the highlight of this big cross-country ski festival is the Feb. 1 Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles, with glowing ice pillars and "ruins.'' Afterward, there's a tent party with music and beer.

There are also classical and free-style races, ski games for children, a snow-sculpture contest and orienteering, ice-cycle, speedskating, snowshoeing and skijoring races, plus a beer garden and vendor village at the Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park, location of most events.

 

 

 

Sat
1
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Fri
31

Snowflake Ski-Jumping Tournament

Westby, WI

At the top of a hill that's the equivalent of a 41-story skyscraper, watch jumpers fly by at 55 mph. It's fun to watch because the jump is built onto the side of a coulee, and spectators can climb it and watch from the top. There are hot drinks and food at the bottom.

Sun
2
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Fri
31

Winter Festival

Fish Creek, WI

This Door County village lets loose with such events as a toilet-seat throw, pie tin toss, bean-bag cannon shoot, smoosh racing and an ugly-sweater contest. There are also free trolley rides, ice carving, a fiddle contest, a snowshoe dance and fireworks.

Ice Breaker

South Haven, MI

There's an ice-carving competition in this Lake Michigan town, plus wagon rides, synchronized skating and a chili cook-off.

Magical Ice Fest

St. Joseph, MI

Watch the pros carve sculptures in this Lake Michigan town. There's also entertainment, a scavenger hunt and magic and crafts for kids.

Iola Winter Carnival

Iola, WI

This village near Waupaca offers ice carving, a lutefisk dinner, ski and snowshoe races and ski jumping.

Scandihoovian Winter Festival

Mount Horeb, WI

The festival in this town just west of Madison features such events as turkey bowling, a snowman-building contest, kick sledding, a spelling bee and a vintage snowmobile show and ride.

Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest

Duluth, MN

This annual festival in West Duluth's Quarry Park features such events as a free ice-climbing clinic for youths 12 and older, beginner and intermediate clinics for adult climbers, a fat-bike intro and presentations on mountain climbing.

Sat
1

Knickerbocker Ice Festival

Lake Mills, WI

This town east of Madison holds a fish toss, snowball-eating contest, dad-sled race, chili cook-off and Iceberg Open golf tournament. There's ice carving and ice wine, too.

Frostival

Moorhead, MN

At the Hjemkomst Center, there's snow yoga, a snow-sculpture contest, games, a guided snowshoe hike, a marshmallow roast and free use of cross-country skis and snowshoes. 

Sun
2
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Sat
1

Art Shanty Projects

Minneapolis, MN

Frozen Lake Harriet hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Check for scheduled events and ice conditions.

 

 

Madison Winter Festival

Madison, WI

The annual festival in Elver Park features cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing plus music, family games and ice and snow sculptures.

Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race

Bayfield, WI

Watch four races over two days and get in some skiing and snowshoeing on the side.

Sun
2

Chinese Lunar New Year's Parade

Chicago, IL

Celebrate the Year of the Rat in Chinatown with a parade, marching bands, lion dancing and fireworks.

Sat
8
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Wed
5

Winter Carnival

Houghton, MI

This snow fest at Michigan Tech University includes a human dog-sled race, snow volleyball and a tug of war and ends with a torchlight parade and fireworks at Mont Ripley ski hill.

Sun
9
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Wed
5

Frozen River Film Festival

Winona, MN

This festival shows a large selection of documentaries specializing in adventure, extreme sports and environmental issues.

Sat
8
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Thu
6

SocialICE

Rochester, MN

At Peace Plaza downtown, five ice bars each offer a different theme and signature drink, with ice sculptures illuminated by lights and nightly DJ entertainment. On Saturday afternoon, there's a FAM JAM for families.

Sun
16
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Thu
6

Winter Festival

Ely, MN

There's a best-beard contest, snow sculpting, an arts market, fat-tire bike demos and a ride, Ely Folk School classes and a free snowshoe hike to the Hegman Petroglyphs.

Sat
8
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Fri
7

Candlelight ski/snowshoe/hike

Around the region

There's nothing better than skiing (or snowshoeing or hiking) through a twinkling forest or across a luminary-lined lake. There's usually a bonfire and hot chocolate to enjoy afterward.

Banbury Art Crawl

Eau Claire, WI

Visit more than 100 artists at studios in the Building 13 art complex. Many will give demonstrations. There will be also music, food and art projects for children.

Sun
9
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Fri
7

Hot Air Affair

Hudson, WI

There will be a Friday night torchlight parade and fireworks plus a craft fair, smoosh boarding, morning balloon launches and evening moon glows.

Polar Fest

Detroit Lakes, MN

Over two weekends, this festival features such events as a snow angels competition, tubing night, snowman build, fishing derby, wildlife tracking, fat-tire bike races and fireworks.

 

Sturgeon Spectacular

Fond du Lac, WI

Lake Winnebago is the setting for this celebration of giant fish. There will be a 6 p.m. Friday parade, ice carving and snow sculpting, a snowman-building contest, free dog-sled rides, bonfires and live music.

Sat
8

Jack Frost Fest

Spooner, WI

There's turkey bowling, minnow races, an antique snowmobile show and a fat-bike ride in this western Wisconsin town.

Sun
9
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Sat
8

Eagle-watching festivals

Around the region

Town on rivers where eagles gather in winter offer live bird presentations, guided tours and cultural activities.

Mon
17
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Sat
8

Auto Show

Chicago, IL

This car show at McCormick Place is the largest in the nation and third-largest in the world.

Sun
16
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Wed
12

Michigan Ice Fest

Munising, MI

Watch ice-climbing demos, slide shows and professional climbers and take clinics for beginners at spectacular Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior.

Sun
16
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Fri
14

Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds

Meadowlands, MN

Listen to programs and go on field trips to see such boreal species as evening grosbeak, northern hawk owl, gray jay and particularly snowy owls. Register early for this festival northwest of Duluth.

Sky Circus on Ice

Delavan, WI

This free kite festival hosted by Lake Lawn Resort features flying lessons, a kite-making workshop, an aerial candy drop, a snow slide, indoor and outdoor kite-flying performances, a snow-carving class and snow and ice sculptures on Delavan Lake and downtown.

Sat
15

Book Across the Bay

Ashland/Washburn, WI

The weekend starts with a Friday-night party in Ashland. On Saturday night, ski or snowshoe across Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay on a 10-kilometer route lined by ice luminaries. If you're not too fast, fireworks will fill the sky as you're approaching Washburn; a bonfire, chili feed and blues music follow.

Color the Wind Kite Festival

Clear Lake, IA

This town in north-central Iowa draws kiters from eight states for its festival, the largest in the Midwest, and stunt fliers will perform routines choreographed to music.

Fire & Ice

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Ice and snow sculptors create pieces around town. There's a novice category for beginners.

Barstool Races

Drummond, WI

In this small town north of Cable, watch people careen down a hill on decorated bar stools, then stay for the chili feed.

Northwoods Blizzard Blast

Conover, WI

On the snowy northeast edge of Wisconsin, go on horse-drawn sleigh rides and see such events as recliner racing, ice bowling, dog-sled dashing, snowshoe baseball and snow sculpting.

Free Entrance Day at Minnesota state parks

All state parks, MN

Entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks is free today, as well as April 25, June 13 and Nov. 27.

Sun
16
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Sat
15

Pine Mountain Ski Jumping Tournament

Iron Mountain, MI

This Upper Peninsula town on the Wisconsin border is where the international jumpers go; it's a stop on the Continental Cup circuit.

Winter Festival

Cedarburg, WI

In its 46th year, this festival just north of Milwaukee features bed races, ice-carving, a dog weight pull competition, an egg hunt for kids and a parade at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Mon
17
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Sat
15

Free Weekend in Michigan state parks

All state parks, MI

There's no vehicle-entry fee in Michigan state parks on the holiday weekend, and Saturday and Sunday is Free Fishing Weekend.

Several parks will be holding winter festivals, fishing derbies and candlelight ski and snowshoe evenings.

Sun
23
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Thu
20

American Birkebeiner

Hayward, WI

Watch the "Greatest Show on Snow,'' with races of all distances for all ages and abilities plus a ski expo, snowshoe hike, skijoring and vintage ski.

On Saturday, watch the world's best skiers on the 51-kilometer marathon (55 kilometers for classic skiers).

On Sunday, there's a ski-gear and fat-bike demo and an event for girls 8-18.

 

Sat
22
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Fri
21

Big Turn Music Fest

Red Wing, MN

For the third year of this festival, 164 bands are playing at 21 venues around downtown Red Wing.

Sat
22

Bockfest at Capital Brewery

Middleton, WI

This Madison-area brewery celebrates with the Running of the Blondes 1K race, a fish throw, music, costumes and, of course, beer. Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 and sell out fast. 

Sun
23
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Sat
22

WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race

Ely, MN

There's a spaghetti feed Saturday and the race to Tower and back on Sunday, with a chance for spectators to mingle beforehand.

Sat
29
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Fri
28

Grumpy Old Men Festival

Wabasha, MN

There's always good eagle-viewing in this Mississippi River town, and during the festival, there will be an ice-fishing contest, polar plunge and minnow races.

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days

Prairie du Chien, WI

Birding experts give programs, and volunteers man spotting scopes at the Wisconsin Travel Information Center, just off the bridge into town. There will also be children's activities and an Effigy Mounds Winter Film Festival.

Sat
29

International Festival

Madison, WI

Dancers, musicians, storytellers and puppeteers representing traditions from around the world converge on the Overture Center for the Arts on State Street for this free festival. There's also food and a global bazaar.

Trenary Outhouse Classic

Trenary, MI

In this little town, not far from Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, there will be potty-pushing contests for kids and adults, a best fur-hat contest and lots of craft beer.

Sun
1
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Sat
29

Artigras

Green Bay, WI

This fine arts festival in KI Convention Center includes artist demonstrations, children's activities, dance, jazz and classical music.

Maple-syrup festivals

Around the region

At nature centers around the region, tour the sugarbush and learn how to tap trees and boil sap. Then, eat a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup.